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Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Can we be friends? Why Google Plus is different.

Can we be friends? Why Google Plus is different.


We at Content Marketing Wizard use Google+ as one of many Social Media platforms available to us. In my personal life, I am more used to Facebook. Getting used to Google+ took me a while.

Having been an avid Facebook user for years, when Google+ launched I could quickly identify the similarities. I have often mockingly told my business partner, who isn't much of a Facebook user, that Google+ is an almost exact clone of Facebook. And similar to Linkedin a host of other social platforms. Sharing status updates, sharing pictures, sharing links, responding to posts, grouping people into lists or circles, the whole sha-bam, all similar to the Facebooks of this world.

However, as I started using Google+, just to get a feel for it really, I noticed it didn't quite 'fit' me. I did not feel at home at first. It took me some time to figure out why that was.

Google+ has a very simple and elegant way of connecting to other people: you just click and add them to a Circle. Either directly in Google+ or via a button on some page. Things could hardly be more simple.



Still, somehow, I didn't quite 'get' it. Sure, you can click a button on some webpage to 'connect'. Or search for someone and add them to your circles. In fact, Google+ offers a host of ways to find and connect to people. But then what? What happens if you've Circled someone?

Think about that for a minute.

That's right. Nothing happens! At first, anyway. Except that that person will be able to see what you have shared with that Circle *when* they visit your profile. Well, that's great! But that person will have to visit your profile first! Sure, he (or she) can tell that you added them to your Circle. But unless that person acts upon that, nothing happens! It is only after that person has put *you* in one of their circles that they will be able to see you in their stream. Only after both parties have added each other to their circles you are truly connected.

I suppose when you are a seasoned Google+ user, this is all bloody obvious. To me, it wasn't. And still isn't. I get how it works now, but my intuition tells me something isn't quite right.

Why does my brain misfire? Or rather, why does my gut disagree with my brain? It took me a while to realize. It is because there is no introduction! You never introduce yourself to the person you add to your Circles!

My gut tells me that any real-life social interaction starts with an introduction of some sort? But my brain tells me it may not. Now.

Let's consider an analogy. You are in a bar. You introduce yourself to someone and buy him a drink. He buys you one back. From that point on, you are connected. This is similar to the Facebook way of connecting. (I'm ignoring the 'Subscribe' feature here)

Google+ works differently. You are in a bar. You see a person. You simply buy this person a drink. You hope that person will buy you one back. If he does, you are connnected. This is similar to the Twitter way of connecting.

My point is, that Google+ has done away with the introduction part of a 'relationship'. You add someone to your circles and from then on share with them. Only, the other party does not see that until they explicitly  circle you back.

So, in effect, in Google+ you don't make 'friends'. You gather 'followers'. Some of your followers may also be friends. You decide. An intriguing concept, I think.

It makes me very curious about how Google+ will develop as a social platform. Will it move in the Facebook direction? Or will it be more similar to Linkedin? Or will it evolve into something different altogether? Will it take off at all? I don't know, but I intend stick around and find out.


About the Author(s): This article was written by Arno van Boven. Arno is co-founder of Content Marketing Wizard.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Does Your Marketing Strategy Know How Big Your Goals Are?

Does Your Marketing Strategy Know How Big Your Goals Are?

When developing a marketing strategy, it is very helpful to be specific about your goals. ‘More’ and ‘higher’ are not enough. It is much better to define how much more or how much higher.

Editor's note: This post is part of a series on developing an effective Online Marketing Strategy. It tells the story of John, a small business owner, who creates his first online marketing plan, using the Audience Creator. Content Marketing Wizard Tim coaches him along this journey.

Last episode: Is There a Market in Your Marketing Plan?


Wizard 1 - Goals
Tim makes John come up with numbers



Wizard 1.3 - Measurable goals


Content Marketing Wizard 1.3 Measurable Goals'Right,' Tim replies, 'so how are you going to reach those people?'

'Well,' says John, 'we have our website and a newsletter, and we could start using a blog, and twitter, and then we’ll see.'

'I see. Not recommended!' says Tim in a casual way. 'Sure, you can and should use all those ingredients, but there is more to our recipe! What is it you want to accomplish? How are you going to tell if your recipe was successful? Have you thought of that?'

Tim thinks for a minute here.

'Well, it would be nice if we had a few new customers next year.'

'How many?' asks Tim. 'Well, 25 would be great, John says smiling, but I’ll settle for 3, provided they bring in enough participants, say 30.'

'Okay,' says Tim, 'so your goal is 3 new customers by next year. Now we’re getting somewhere. The actual numbers aren’t that important. And we will be dealing with this in greater detail later on. What is important is that we established measurable goals.'

John enters in the Audience Creator:
This year:
Three organizations that each bring 30 participants who train on a weekly base; 10% increase in annual revenue; 
Increase brand awareness of our outdoor corporate fitness program by increasing website views by 50% in next 6 months.


In the next episode 2.1, John recollects marketing memories.


The entire story of John and Tim is also available for reading on your computer or mobile device. Get it from Amazon or Smashwords.

Looking for more information and instructions on how the Audience Creator wizard can work for you? Learn more.

About the Author(s): This article was written by Arno van Boven and Ronald Kloots of Content Marketing Wizard.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Is There a Market in Your Marketing Plan?

Is There a Market in Your Marketing Plan?

Marketing has the word market in it, yet a common mistake is being insufficiently clear on what market your strategy is targeting.

Editor's note: This post is part of a series on developing an effective Online Marketing Strategy. It tells the story of John, a small business owner, who creates his first online marketing plan, using the Audience Creator. Content Marketing Wizard Tim coaches him on this journey.

Last episode:  Do You Set the Right Goals for Your Content Marketing Plan?


Wizard 1 - Goals
Where John has to think about his market



Wizard 1.2 - Market


'So,' asks Tim, 'who do you want to know about this service?'

'Let’s see,' says John, 'we think that by offering outdoor programs for business groups, we can create a win-win situation. They get exercised, so their company benefits from healthier employees, and we increase our sales. So our focus is business to business.'

'Mostly a local affair, not international, I presume?,' Tim asks.

'Yes, local but eventually country-wide,' John replies, 'I have talked to several colleagues in the field about it. In the future, we could cooperate.'

'Right,' says Tim, 'but for now, it’s local?'

'It is,' John says.

'Any particular kind of businesses you would like as customer?' asks Tim.

'Oh, I have no preference there,' says John. 'But I believe our initial chances to be bigger with governmental and non-profit organizations, and they should have a fair amount of employees, say 50 to 500. We welcome everyone of course, but the service is for groups.'

'Aye,' says Tim. 'Have you thought about who you want to reach in those organizations?'

'Indeed I have,' John says, 'I would like to reach the executive level. I believe "Move your business" should best be part of a company-wide policy on health, raising health awareness and reducing sick leave'

'Okay,' Tim summarizes, 'now we know who we will be talking to in general. We’ll be more specific about this later on, but let’s enter all this in the wizard for now.'

John enters in the Audience Creator:
Characteristics:
B2B with focus on groups; Large companies with 50 to 500 employees in profit and non-profit sector; Organizations that want to raise health awareness and reduce sick leave. 
Locations and languages:
Local area; English

In the next episode 1.3, John will set himself some goals.


The entire story of John and Tim is also available for reading on your computer or mobile device. Get it from Amazon or Smashwords.

Looking for more information and instructions on how the Audience Creator wizard can work for you? Learn more.

About the Author(s):  This article was written by Ronald Kloots and Arno van Boven of Content Marketing Wizard .
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Do You Set the Right Goals for Your Content Marketing Plan?

Do You Set the Right Goals for Your Content Marketing Plan?

Unsurprisingly, every marketing strategy revolves around getting attention for a product or service. John has to decide what he wants to achieve for his service.

Editor's note: This post is part of a ongoing series telling the story of John, a small business owner who creates his first online marketing plan using the Audience Creator with the help of Tim, a Content Marketing wizard.

Last episode: Introduction of the players


Wizard 1 - Goals 



The First Simple Step


Content Marketing Wizard 1 Goals
'Nice to meet you, Tim,' John says to Tim.

'Aye,' Tim replies, 'nice to meet you too.'

Tim, you should know, just likes to say ‘Aye’ for dramatic effect.

'Right,' says John, 'have a seat. As you can see, I have already hooked up my laptop to the beamer, so we can both have a good look.'

On the wall, the starting page of the Content Marketing Wizard is displayed.

'Aye, that is my system,' Tim says. 'What you see there is a wizard to generate new leads. It comes with a manual, examples and template documents. Both the cooking utensils and the recipe, so to speak. It is up to you to come up with the ingredients, and that is why I am here. I am here to coach you along the way.'

Tim wiggles his eyebrows in what he considers to be a wizard-like fashion.

John at this point just nods.

'I can see you are hesitant,' says Tim, 'but not to worry. When we are done, you’ll have a better understanding of what Content Marketing is about, and a system to do it with. You will have created a general marketing communication plan, and have a system for creating effective content.'

'Alright,' says John, 'let’s be bold, I’ve never gone there before.'

Excellent, Tim says. The first part of the Content Marketing Wizard is about the plan. We will figure out what it is you want, and how to get it. In other words: we will create a Marketing Communication plan. This we do with the Audience Creator. If you'll open the Audience Creator template*, we can get started.

Wizard 1.1 - Product or Service


'Okay,' says Tim, 'tell me first, what is it you do?'

'Well,' says John, 'we have all the regular activities you expect from a fitness center but we also do outdoor activities, which is not that common in our line of work. We have developed an outdoor program especially targeted at business groups, so employees can exercise together.'

'Aye,' says Tim, 'you’ve taken the first step. Your services are outdoor activities for business groups. We have established what your content, you stories will be about. Enter that in the document.'

John opens the Audience Creator template*, and enters:

Service: 
outdoor corporate fitness program for employees (local)


In the next episode 1.2, John decides his market.


The entire story of John and Tim is also available for reading on your computer or other mobile device. Get it from Amazon or Smashwords.

Looking for more information and instructions on how the Audience Creator wizard can work for you? Learn more.

About the Author(s): This article was written by Ronald Kloots and Arno van Boven of Content Marketing Wizard.

*Audience Creator template is only available in the Wizard Circle.
Monday, May 21, 2012
How Small Business Owner John Creates His Online Marketing Plan in a Couple of Days

How Small Business Owner John Creates His Online Marketing Plan in a Couple of Days

Content Marketing Wizard Players John and Tim
Introducing John and Tim
People don’t like long lectures. They want to be shown, not told. It is the underlying idea of the Content Marketing Wizard, our method for online marketing for small businesses. It covers a lot of topics. Explaining all these would mean a lot of lecturing.

We solved this by transforming our lectures into a story. This is the first in a series of posts telling that story.

It is about small business owner John, who is guided through the creation of his Online Marketing Plan by his coach Tim, a Content Marketing wizard.

In the coming period, you can read about his progress as he goes from having barely a clue about online marketing to completing his first online marketing strategy.

Introducing the players...


Meet John from England. John owns a fitness center with 12 employees. Located at the edge of a city park, he has both indoor and outdoor activities for his clients. Because of fierce competition, profit margins in traditional gyms are small. John came up with the idea of creating special outdoor programs for business groups, so that employees can exercise together. He calls it ‘Move your business’. His challenge: get leads for this product.

John’s company has a website and a mailing list. Other than that, the Internet is not used for marketing purposes. Yet.

John himself is no stranger to the Internet. In fact, he would be lost without e-mail, or the local news sites, or his favorite take-away service. Then again, he is not some whizzkid either. Far from it. And he doesn’t want to be! “But if I consume services on the web from others," John realizes, “I can make others consume my services. I see it all around me. How do I go about achieving that? How can I use the web to get customers?”

So John hired this guy from a marketing agency, and spent a few mornings talking to a real marketeer. But after a few sessions of brainstorming and a lot of money, he felt they didn’t speak the same language. “Surely I must be able to do this by myself?” John thought, and he spent a few evenings on Google. This didn’t help much, though. The amount of possibilities and ideas overwhelmed him. So John let the idea rest, but it never left his mind...

Meet Tim. A former speleologist and rabbit aficionado, Tim is now a Content Marketing Wizard. Tim has a method for generating Leads via the Internet through Content Marketing.

On a sunny afternoon Tim and John meet during a networking event. Tim has interesting stories to tell about do-it-yourself Content Marketing. What it is. About how simple it can be. About common pitfalls. About how he has developed a Wizard that people can use. So interesting in fact, that John decides to buy this Wizard off Tim to do his own Content Marketing. Tim will be coaching John along the way.


In the next episode, Tim and John meet again. Tim helps John make the first simple step.


The entire story of John and Tim is also available for reading on your computer or other mobile device. Get it from Amazon or Smashwords.

Looking for more information and instructions on how the Audience Creator wizard can work for you? Learn more.

About the Authors: This article is written by Ronald Kloots (connected to Google+) and Arno van Boven (connected to Google+) of Content Marketing Wizard
Monday, May 14, 2012
Why Your Small Business Needs to Have a Good Online Marketing Plan

Why Your Small Business Needs to Have a Good Online Marketing Plan

Without a proper marketing strategy, marketing efforts are bound to be unsuccessful, frustrating experiences. This especially true for online marketing and social media, and even more so for small business with limited budget and resources. While online services in themselves are easy to use, the challenge is to come up with a comprehensive and organized way of putting them to use. Losing oversight happens all too quickly.

If you don’t have a plan, you’re not doing it right

Before you embark on a journey you create a plan. You may even formalize it and create lists of things to take with you and things to do before you go.

Marketing is, of course, no different. It requires a plan. Anyone who has ever done serious marketing will likely have created a marketing plan of some sort detailing the product, prospective buyers, budget, strategy, and so on. If you haven’t, you’re not doing it right!

Have you thought about Social Media? Really thought?

Let’s assume for a moment you have a plan. Does your plan incorporate online marketing efforts? And if so, to what extent? Most small businesses that we at Content Marketing Wizard encounter factor in ‘online’ almost as an afterthought. Even though they are usually well aware of the importance of online marketing nowadays. For most of these businesses, it is simply too big a subject, too big a burden on their (time) budget.


Plan it or lose it

Even more so than with traditional marketing techniques, online marketing requires planning. This is because the number of online channels and platforms is enormous. Blogs, social media, newsletters, whitepapers, audio, video and many more make up a huge intertwined web, no pun intended. The challenge you stand for is determining which ones will work for you. Another challenge is making sure you publish content on a regular basis so that someone, somewhere picks up your story. For small businesses, probably the biggest challenge of all is keeping track of what you already did, will do in the future, and where to do it. Trust us, you get lost very, very quickly. Organizing all this is not an easy task.

With this in mind, Content Marketing Wizard created the Audience Creator. It is a step-by-step method that not only assists you in devising a marketing strategy and plan from scratch, it also offers provides a framework and tools to carry out your plan. By having a structured method, at least you don’t have to worry about the organizing part.

Find out more at Audience-Creator

Image credit: marketoonist.com
Friday, May 04, 2012
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Press release May 4, 2012

Content Marketing Wizard: a new online marketing method for small businesses

On May 1, 2012 Dutch consulting agency KRIS consult launched the Content Marketing Wizard, an online marketing method developed specifically for small businesses.

Small businesses often struggle to take commercial advantage of online marketing possibilities and social media. Time constraints and lack of expertise prevent online marketing become a natural part of their business process. Hiring external expertise is costly, yet online marketing is getting increasingly important. The Content Marketing Wizard is a do-it-yourself method to generate leads that systematizes the use of social media and other online channels. The Google Apps based service uses a unique narrative approach to guide small businesses through the process at their own pace.

Social Media: a missed opportunity?
'Old school' marketing techniques such as static websites and advertising in print are on the wane. It is becoming increasingly important for companies to truly establish an online presence. Online sales are now part of everyday life, and the emergence of social media have created vast opportunities for word-of-mouth. At the same time, the online environment is constantly changing, for consumers and companies alike.

Why small businesses struggle
Large organizations usually have staff dedicated to online media but small businesses often do not, KRIS found. They realise the need to 'do' something, but do not know where to start. With so many services available on the internet, figuring out what marketing strategy works for your business is no simple task. Small businesses often simply lack time, funds, human resources and technical expertise needed to incorporate online marketing into their business plan. Hiring external expertise is expensive and generally ad-hoc. KRIS recognized the need for an integrated method for online marketing, that small businesses can perform on their own, without posing a strain on daily 'business as usual'. They analyzed and identified the basic elements of online marketing and created a wizard for each step of the process. All steps combined make up the Content Marketing Wizard.

The wizard of John: a story
With the Content Marketing Wizard, small businesses have a pre-defined framework with which to do  their own online marketing, including instructions, templates and background theory. A unique feature of the Content Marketing Wizard approach comes in the form of a story - literally. The entire wizard is also presented as a narrative, the story of small business owner John who fills out the Content Marketing Wizard aided by wizard Tim. The narrative serves as one big working example.

The advantages of the Google Apps platform, the hands-on approach and the unique narrative example make the Content Marketing Wizard an interesting service for businesses who want to generate their own leads at their own pace.

More information on the Content Marketing Wizard is available at  www.content-marketing-wizard.com